Amid restaurant labor shortages, an apprenticeship program pairs young people with restaurants that need help
From retention to hiring, a range of industries continue to face staffing issues due to COVID-19, like early childhood education, trash management and restaurants. Restaurants alone accounted for nearly 10% of the state’s labor force prior to the pandemic.
Since the pandemic began, restaurants and the workers who keep them running have been hit hard. According to a report out last year from the Colorado Restaurant Association, nearly 77,000 restaurant workers had lost their jobs and were still out of work, and as much as 40% of the state’s restaurants are in danger of closing.
An apprenticeship program in four states, including Colorado, is helping to connect young people interested in the restaurant industry with restaurants, providing an alternative career pathway for students and, in theory, some solutions to the challenges restaurants are facing.
To learn more about the Restaurant Youth Registered Apprenticeship program, we speak with Daniella Fernandez, a recent high school graduate and apprentice through RYRA at Chook Charcoal Chicken, a local chicken restaurant with three locations around the Denver metro area. We also speak with Elizabeth Nicholson, Chook’s chief operating officer.